Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note:

Last year, Pastor Babu Shahbaz was arrested and jailed after being accused of committing blasphemy in Pakistan. According to the accusation, Pastor Shahbaz was alleged to have torn pages of the Quran and dumped them in the street, a crime punishable with life imprisonment. Last week, the Lahore High Court released Pastor Shahbaz after finding the evidence against him unconvincing. False accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan are common and often motivated by religious hatred or score settling. Will Pastor Shahbaz be able to return to a normal life? 

12/11/2017 Pakistan (Asia News) – The Lahore High Court has released a Protestant pastor on bail, detained for almost a year on charges of blasphemy. A copy of the verdict was sent to Asia News, in which the judges write that the Rev. Babu Shahbaz is “innocent”. His lawyer Nadeem Anthony reports with joy, “I thank the High Court for giving justice to this innocent Christian.”

On 6 December, Pastor Shahbaz was able to embrace his family. He was arrested on December 30, 2016 in the village of Kamahan [a suburb of Lahore, ed.], after a group of local Muslims found 150 pages of the Koran torn in the street. According to the accusers, the name of the pastor was printed on 100 pages.

Locked up in Lahore’s Jail Camp, the Rev. Shahbaz was accused of insulting the prophet under section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, a non-bailable offence carrying life imprisonment.

Judge Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan’s verdict reads: “The accused allegedly made an extrajudicial confession in police custody, therefore, same is not admissible in evidence. Polygraphic test is a weak type of evidence and the same cannot be relied upon blindly,” Justice Khan added. “No page of the Sipara (chapter) allegedly recovered from the possession of the petitioner was found to be torn. Mere recovery of a blue marker from the possession of the petitioner is by itself not sufficient to refuse bail to the petitioner because a blue marker is available in almost every second house of big cities of this country.”

Having ascertained the innocence of the Christian, the judge granted him the return home, upon payment of 200,000 rupees (over 1600 euros). Attorney Nadeem Anthony claims that, “minor courts are influenced by group pressure. I made no promises to the victim’s family. I only asked that their requests be heard. Similar cases require difficult work because of religious sensitivity on the issue. Often victims can not return to lead a normal life in their environment, because society ostracizes them.”

[Full Story]

For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].